Dominique Ansel Makes Some Damn Fine Kouign Amann (and Canelé)

Categories: Eating, Shockey

Lauren Shockey
Start the day with some kouign amann

Dominque Ansel, formerly the pastry chef at Daniel (and before that, Fauchon in Paris), has branched out to open his own eponymous bakery located in Soho at 189 Spring Street (212-219-2773). In addition to the usual buttery suspects found at a French bakery (croissants, madeleines, éclairs, etc.), the pastry chef offers a selection of Northern French specialties, like thick slices of Breton cake and kouign amman. Knowing that there's no better way to start the morning than with a jolt of sugar, we stopped by the café to check out the sweets.

We began with the kouign amman, which are best described as a cross between a croissant and a palmier. Layers of flaky dough are encased in a sugary crust that crunches between the teeth. It's sweet but not oppressively so, and more buttery than what is probably good for us, meaning it's a damn fine cake. Get this while you can -- Ansel often sells out early.

Lauren Shockey
The canelé, a little piece of happiness from Bordeaux

And because no breakfast of pastries can consist of only one pastry, we immediately nabbed up a canelé, which is hands-down, without question, our favorite French pastry of all time. Like, seriously. Best described as a cake with a flan-like center but super-crunchy exterior, the canelé is bolstered with vanilla and rum and is about the most amazing thing you can ever eat. It's imperative to get a crunchy exterior, because that means it's fresh. And we're happy to report that this canelé is super-crunchy and specked with vanilla beans! In truth, it's slightly sweeter and a tad less boozy than we would have wished for, but having searched high and low for quality canelés in New York, this is pretty damn close to ideal.

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Solenn Titso
Solenn Titso

This northern part of France is called Brittany. I should know I live there :)



In Breton, the plural of kouign-amann is kouignoù-amann. Therefore, it needs to be corrected in the text. For instance, within the first sentence of the second paragraph.

Second, I'm not sure people in Brittany would approve so small kouignoù-amann as they are supposed being shared with guests. In other words, they are not individual cakes but for many people, typically from 4 to 12. If you want to make such a cake for a single person, you should name it kouignette, not kouign-amann.

And, believe me, those guys are one of the most typical cake we make ourselves at home... We barely eat them for breakfast but for coffee instead (so by 10am, lunch, 4pm or dinner).

Anyways... I hope you will continue to enjoy such cakes anywhere you are on the otherside of the Atlantic. But remember, the best ones are only the ones our grand-mothers were baking! ;)Cédric(from Brittany, France)